British department store chain Tesco is opening two new Slovak hyper-markets this year and two more in 2000, to add to its existing department stores.
While Tesco has officially confirmed the 1999 opening sites, officials at the company refused to give details about the other two locations. But the mayors of the towns where the stores are planned told The Slovak Spectator that negotiations had been completed and that they were awaiting the stores.
The construction is part of an effort from Tesco to develop a series of hyper-markets in Slovakia. The large warehouse-style super stores will differ from Tesco department stores in that they will largely be located outside of city centers.
Expansion will begin in Nitra, said Tesco Public Relations Manager Oľga Hrnčiarová. "The new Nitra Tesco will open on June 12. We will also open a larger Tesco in Košice [in October]," she added.
According to Mark Riddler of Scilland, Tesco's public relations company, the Nitra site will cover 8,000 square metres and the Košice store will encompass 10,000 square metres.
Riddler added that Tesco would further expand next year by adding two more stores, but he would not reveal their exact location, only saying "one will be in Bratislava. But we don't yet know where the second site will be and we do not discuss negotiations."
However, Petržalka mayor Vladimír Bajan said that the new Tesco in Bratislava would be in his district. Negotiations with Tesco, Bajan continued, were conducted by Ján Kotula, deputy to the mayor. Kotula, when contacted by The Slovak Spectator, refused to discuss the negotiations.
Pieštany Mayor Juraj Csontos confirmed that the second opening would be in his famous spa town. Pieštany, which recently anounced the opening of a new Motorola factory promising over 1,200 new jobs, has been avidly pursuing foreign investment. According to Csontos, the city's persistence had won them the second Tesco expansion site.
Tesco's Hrnčiarová claimed to have no knowledge concerning the year-2000 hyper-market expansion sites.
Tesco, already among the top five foreign investors in Slovakia, is aggressively pursuing expansion plans throughout central Europe. According to Business Central Europe, Tesco recently set aside $525 million for Central European investment for the period of 1998 to 2001. Tesco will double its number of stores in Hungary from five to ten, and is expecting to double its 1998 domestic sales of $200 million.
Citing the promise of high profits in the region - estimates suggest that the GDP of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia will triple over the next 20 years from $250 billion to $750 billion - Tesco has also made plans to open seven more stores in the Czech Republic and one more in Poland, Business Central Europe reported.